Review – Blind Ego – Preaching To The Choir

Following the successful studio album ‘Liquid’ and the magical live CD/DVD at Loreley recorded in the pouring rain, Blind Ego are back with a new album. And boy is there a new storm headed your way.

A solo project of RPWL guitarist Kalle Wallner, I was very impressed with the first album where Kalle let his harder side loose on some classy hard and melodic rock tracks. This new album turns the knob up to the mythical eleven in style.

The album’s title ‘Preaching to the Choir’ has different meanings, on different levels. When applied to the band Kalle Wallner says, “It’s about blind understanding. When you get the right people on board, there is no need for lengthy explanations. You just hit the recording button. And when you then give the right musicians the right music … that’s when they help you take it to the next level.” He goes on to say, “No need to convince anybody, no discussions. And no compromises are necessary. You just pump it out.”

When it comes to writing the music for Blind Ego ‘Preaching to the Choir’ takes on a different meaning. “A lot of bands stick to their comfort zone, giving their fans exactly what they’ve come to expect. The album’s title is a reminder to explore and trust my own development and not be afraid to challenge the fans.”

With Kalle’s thunderous and yet expressive guitars the core of every track, the album opens with some gusto on Massive and the fantastic title track. A plethora of hard-edged riffs combine with the powerhouse drumming of Michael Christoph to give a monumental and elemental sound, a real hit to the solar plexus and the funky chorus just grabs you from the get-go making Preaching To The Choir one of the best hard rock tracks I’ve heard in quite a while!

Burning Alive gives a more melodic bent to proceedings and brings the excellent rock vocals of Scott Balaban to the fore. A pulsating and driving song with another killer chorus, I’m really getting into this finely crafted release. Things take a darker, funkier course on the mesmeric Line In The Sand with it’s grungy riff and harsher vocals. There’s real variety on show here and very impressive musical and songwriting ability on every track.

Dark Paradise, with its sense of melancholy and contemplation, takes the rock ballad and elevates it to a higher plane with some elegant guitar work and delicate bass and subdued drums which erupt, along with Scott’s powerful vocal, on the wonderful chorus. Polished hard rock returns with the invigorating and fast paced In Exile, a lesson in how to do an accessible rock track that doesn’t have to be obviously commercial.

Blind Ego are a rock band with all guns blazing, yet grown-up enough to take their finger off the trigger at just the right moments. There is no loud without silent, no hard without soft and this is all evident on the excellent Heading For The Stars with its combination of the subdued and the outspoken, one of my favourite tracks on the album. The anthemic, in your face and chest pounding Broken Land invokes The Scorpions to me. A straightforward, no-nonsense hard rock track that wears its heart on its sleeve and does so with pride.

A slow burning, thoughtful opening sees album closer The Pulse almost creep up on you but it is an intense, powerful and profound song that becomes almost all-encompassing and engrossing through its eight minutes plus running time. The music and lyrics ebb and flow with riveting skill, the piercing guitar solo a particular highlight.

‘Preaching To The Choir’ is a powerful statement of intent from this stellar musician and is a wonderfully crafted release. Hard rock of the highest calibre performed by musicians at the height of their game and working in perfect union. The bar just got raised even higher…

Released 14th February 2020

Review – Hibernal – Beyond

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

J.K.Rowling

Hibernal is a sci-fi post-rock project created by Brisbane native and author Mark R. Healy where, along with long term musical partner in crime Rowan Salt, Mark interweaves sci-fi stories with instrumental music to tell a compelling storyline that unfolds throughout the course of the album. The aim is to take the listener on an atmospheric, immersive and thought-provoking journey with every production.

I have become an avid fan of Mark’s work and it is always an occasion filled with great anticipation when a new Hibernal album is announced.

‘Beyond’ is the fifth release from this accomplished musician and storyteller and, in my opinion, is his best release yet.

“It was meant to be a routine mission. A crew of two sent to investigate an anomaly in the Rigel system at the foot of Orion.”

Using the excellent voice talents of long time collaborators Scott Gentle and Faleena Hopkins, we are told a twisting tale of two people who pass through a void in space and find a sinister and mind blowing world on the other side.

I am not going to spoil the story by writing an in depth review of the album but, suffice to say, it is one of Mark’s most engrossing and spine-tingling tales yet..

“As I watch, a pale blue star seems to throb and grow larger. With each pulse, shafts of azure light illuminate around it like the strands of a spider’s web. I can’t decide if it’s beautiful or terrifying. Then the moment passes, and the murk drifts overhead, obscuring my view.”

Hibernal albums are amazing cinematic soundscapes that have you on the edge of your seat, you feel invested in the characters and your heart is in your mouth waiting to hear what is going to happen next, the music adding an incredibly detailed and suspenseful accompaniment to the absorbing and compelling narrative.

I’d liken Mark’s work to an audiobook with musical backing, these are works that need to be listened to in one sitting, from beginning to end. I played ‘Beyond’ in full for the first time on one of my daily runs and soon found myself totally immersed in the story and itching to find out what was going to happen with Blake and Aven next, with music like this it truly doesn’t get much better than that.

“You can’t leave me. We’re in this together, Blake. Right to the end.”

‘Beyond’ is another tour de force from the undoubted master of cinematic storytelling. It is an enthralling and utterly gripping piece of work that holds your attention from its fascinating start, through its intriguing plot and right until the chilling end.

Mark R. Healy, my friend, you have done it again and this time it is your very best release yet!

Released 20th January 2020.

Order ‘Beyond’ from bandcamp here:

https://hibernal.bandcamp.com/album/beyond

Rise Twain launch video for “Prayers”

Philadelphia- duo Rise Twain released their debut self-titled album last year on InsideOutMusic. The union of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic RouteBeck-Fields, author & playwright) bring their collective years of direct and varied experience in writing, performing and recording music together for their impressive first album.

Today, the band have launched their first ever official video for the beautiful ‘Prayers’.

The band comments: “Prayers is an elegy for love to come down from a forbidden height, to call from the night, to remember, wake, and live again. It sings a desperate melody to the lost so that they may find their way home.”

The album is available to order on Limited CD Digipak, 180g Black Vinyl LP + CD & as digital album here: https://risetwain.lnk.to/RiseTwain

Listen to some previously released tracks below:

‘Oh This Life’: https://youtu.be/XUWr1Vyg180

‘Golden’: https://youtu.be/15NnJ32GKfs

‘Everspring’: https://youtu.be/bsZu4GCRnrw

The track-listing is as follows:

1.     Everspring
2.     Golden
3.     The Range
4.     Lit Up
5.     Death of Summer
6.     Oh This Life
7.     Prayers
8.     Falling Skies
9.     Into A Dream
10.  That Is Love

Talking of how the duo came together: “I produced an album for J.D.’s original band, The Scenic Route”, says Kull, describing his first meeting with Beck in 2007. “They were a rocky, progressive kind of band, like a Jeff Buckley kind of thing. I was immediately drawn to his vocals. He’s such a strong singer.” Kull says he and Beck immediately hit it off, what he describes as an “inevitable connection.”

Adds Beck, “I just knew I had to work with Brett on a higher level. When I came in to cut the vocals on the Scenic Route album, the way we worked together…some people you just gel with, and then some people you have a barrier with. Brett and I gelled.” They spoke of one day collaborating on their own project, which finally surfaces as Rise Twain.

Discussing the album’s musical direction, Beck notes, “There’s not a typical structural theme that we use over and over and over. ‘Organic’ is a word that comes to mind. Seeking openness through simplicity and allowing the complexity of music to exist without the necessity of overly packing it or overly processing it. With that we were able to achieve such a broad spectrum of sound, and a colossal sense of its existence, without having to have a billion guitars and a billion things put over top. There’s some colouring with strings and other embellishments, but it really is something very simple and stripped down, and it’s awesome.”

Kull adds, “There’s a lot of complexity in this, but it’s not overt in the least bit. But yet, when you get into it, there’s all this really rich harmonic and dynamic stuff going on.”

RISE TWAIN are:
J.D. Beck: Piano, lead and backing vocals
Brett William Kull: Guitars, bass, keys, percussion, lead and backing vocals

Archive Review – Abel Ganz – Abel Ganz from 2014

We have spoken a lot recently about great albums from the last decade and I announced that Progradar’s choice was Big Big Train’s English Electric – Full Power but there was also an album that was a very, very close runner up and I still love it to this day.

I have a very close emotional connection to the album through the band and they have become great friends of mine. So here is my review of Able Ganz’s incredible self-titled release from 2014, kindly reproduced with the permission of Lady Obscure Music Magazine where it was first published.

When I first started to formulate this review my intention was to base it around the announcement of the so called ‘new’ Pink Floyd album and how we should really be encouraging new music and not collections of old material left metaphorically laying around on the studio floor, given a new coat of looking at and then released to the expectant public, no matter how honourable the intentions.

Instead I am going to concentrate on the music on this new album and how it has totally enraptured me and reinvigorated my sometimes jaded view of the music industry in these modern times. I have often talked about how music has made my more complete, how it has helped me through difficult situations and, sometimes, how it can just be so damn good and life affirming.

You should all know by know how I view mainstream chart music with more than a modicum of displeasure. Corporate crap to appease the masses and increase the bank balances of the music executives with no creativity or soul in any way, shape or form. Then, occasionally unexpectedly, an absolute gem of an album that contains the artist’s heart and soul will come along, one that will have taken a long time to come to fruition.

Music like this is what gets me out of bed in a morning, music that I have to wax lyrical about and spread the word to as many people as possible. To this reviewer, the music industry, at the sharp end, has lost its soul and its understanding that it is there for people to enjoy and to make these people’s lives a better place to be. Now it is just a vast, money making machine, bloated and pointless. It is these smaller, independent artists and labels that hold the true meaning and the future of the music industry.

I have been aware of the Scottish band Abel Ganz for quite a while and heard the odd track that has quite impressed me. However, it is this latest release, self-titled, that has really caught my attention.

First, a quick catch up.

 After a very lengthy hiatus Abel Ganz re-emerged in 2006 with the release ‘Back from the Zone’ – a compilation of 1980s material plus two, new recordings. Original members Hew Montgomery and Hugh Carter were joined on this release by long-time collaborator and drummer Denis Smith.

A brand new album ‘Shooting Albatross’quickly followed in 2008 on the band’s own, newly created record label and was very well received internationally. New, full time members Davie Mitchell (lead guitar), Mick Macfarlane (lead vocals, guitar), and Stevie Donnelly (bass) came on board to complete this album and flesh out the band’s reinvigorated line up with Denis Smith taking on major recording and production duties for the band as well as filling the drum stool.

After two years of gigging and promoting ‘Shooting Albatross’the band began making preparations to record their next album. Shortly after work began, Hew Montgomery made the decision that the time had come for him to pursue solo interests and so bowed out. He was replaced by virtuoso Jack Webb (keyboards) who had contributed to ‘Shooting Albatross’as a session musician. Nine months later as recording had only just begun in earnest Hugh Carter also retired from the band for geographical reasons.

With work on new album freshly started the decision was made to carry on write and record new album with the blessing and encouragement of Montgomery and Carter. With all parts of the album virtually completed and mixing sessions begun the role of keyboards player changed hands once again with new full time member Stephen Lightbody joining the band.

Entitled simply ‘Abel Ganz’ the new album makes a deliberate effort to take in new influences and mix them with the old. A genuine attempt has been made to try new things and explore potential new directions. In short – to try and ‘progress’.

Many guest musicians appear on the new album but the band are particularly proud and excited to have worked with the legendary Jerry Donahue and Malcolm Jones [of Scottish folk-rock band Runrig] on the track ‘Thank you’.

Delusions of Grandeur is a delightful introductory piece to the album with oboe, violins and violas accompanying the piano to almost freshen your musical palate ready for the main event. What follows next, the five-part Obsolescence is as good a piece of music as I’ve heard all year. Starting with Part i Sunrise, which is truly captivating, it has an ethereal mix of acoustic guitar, piano, recorder and effortlessly harmonised vocals, almost religious in its delivery. It gently segues into Pt ii Evening which increases the tempo but retains the innocent wonderment of what has gone before. There is a gentle folk edge to the song and it just fills me with an effortless flow of good feeling, truly enchanting, the steel guitar being a touch of genius. A feeling of urgency pervades all as Pt iii Close Your Eyes begins. This part of the piece has more of a mainstream progressive style to it, bass heavy with clever drumbeats. The delectable swathes and swirling drops of Hammond organ are an added nod to the seventies prog stalwarts. What is becoming increasingly clear is the quality of Macfarlane’s vocals. He truly has an impressive voice. The different time changes and signatures lead you on a musical journey that entertains at every turn. A flute that flitters around like a dancing bird is the entrancing introduction to Pt iv The Dream. It has a slow and measured rhythm that entices you into its musical web and holds you transfixed. You are treated to an aural cornucopia of flutes, guitars, tubular bells, double bass and church organ that builds up to an almighty conclusion to this amazing musical delight, Pt v Dawn. This instrumental finale has a depth of feeling that strikes into your psychological core to an emotional extent. The soaring guitar bleeds empathy as it reaches heights of feeling and fervour, a solo full of passion and ecstasy.

Take a moment to get your breath back after that musical extravaganza and then let the graceful and divine calm of Spring wash over you in a cathartic fashion. On this track Macfarlane shows his prowess with the acoustic guitar. The low hum of crickets calling is accompanied by a mellow acoustic guitar and a great brass section on Recuerdos. A soft vocal full of emotion adds a serious note to this amiable song. It is as you get this far into the album you realise the number of differing musical styles that the band can intertwine with aplomb. It doesn’t detract from any enjoyment of the album. In fact it just adds another layer of delight to it. Heartland begins with the muted sound of children playing before a very oriental sounding note emanates from the keyboard. Vocals on this song are provided by Joy Dunlop and the band takes another ninety degree musical turn as keyboards and programmed percussion deliver a sound not unlike an ambient dance track. It is tranquil, calming and subdued despite coming straight out of left field. There is a smidgeon of Celtic folk song to it but you are never quite able to grasp it fully as it lies just out of earshot. It is different and intriguing, yet very good.

End of Rain is another instrumental track that is like a tropical storm envisioned musically. It is full of highs and lows, powerful yet, sometimes, a calming influence. It is due to the bands undeniable skill that it stops short of just being an ambient background track yet, for this listener at least, it is the weakest track on the album. Maybe an experiment with a different musical direction that wasn’t entirely required. Just to prove they really do know how to mix several unlikely musical styles and make them work Abel Ganz deliver Country with aplomb on Thank You. I think this is a brilliant song and I don’t even like Country! It delivers its heart warming message in several different languages yet never loses focus or direction. The vocals are full of feeling and affection and the accordion and steel guitar add a layer of gloss to the whole track. It is captivating, full of charm and leaves a feeling of wellbeing and content wherever it goes.  Mick Macfarlane takes the lead with the acoustic guitar once more on the instrumental A Portion of Noodles. Another dip into the well of folk influenced music, it dances across your aural receptors with a featherlight footprint. Ghostlike and almost intangible, it is beguiling and mesmerising.

Fourteen minutes of musical delectation now follows in the form of Unconditional. Initially sounding as if it comes from the American heartland and the pen of Springsteen or the combined talents of The Eagles, it delves deeper into our collective musical knowledge to deliver on all counts. You don’t have to wait too long before some free form jazz is let off the leash. Muted trumpet played with alacrity and a lilting piano note take the lead and you soon feel you are in a smoky jazz lounge in New Orleans drinking bourbon and feeling at one with the music. The slightly discordant note of the keyboards that follows takes you down a more experimental route whilst keeping that jazz/fusion edge. The whole song encourages you to sit down and unwind, let the sounds wash over you and take you away from the stress of everyday life. Throw in some flashes of scorching guitar that Joe Satriani would be proud of and things are just about perfect. Hints of blues, jazz and progressive rock infuse to create something quite exceptional on this song, it is another musical delight that deserves wider recognition. The song comes around full circle to smoothly meet up again with the classy feel of the introduction and you know you’ve just heard something special. To close out the album you are treated to The Drowning. A luscious brass arrangement lends added gravitas to Macfarlane’s husky and soulful vocal. It has a wistful, if not downright melancholic feel to it but is extremely charming in its own way. The flugelhorn solo is a thing of dignity and style and adds to the aura of longing and loss.

I have just listened to a musical composition that goes further than just pleasing the senses. It is full of beauty and grace and manages to combine musical styles that are quite disparate and deliver a musical release that beguiles, bewitches and enthrals. This is music that will stand the test of time and could become a legacy for this superb band. Abel Ganz has delivered what is bound to become a highlight of this already impressive musical year, I implore you to go henceforth and purchase this musical marvel!

Released July 8th, 2014.

Order the album from bandcamp here:

https://abelganz.bandcamp.com/album/abel-ganz

Progradar Albums Of The Year 2019

This list is just an opinion, my opinion. These are the albums (and one E.P.) that resonated most with me in the fine music year of 2019.They are not in any particular order apart from my top album of the year…

Big Big Train – Grand Tour

Not an immediate favourite but an excellent grower that slowly insinuated itself into my affections. Big Big Train are very, very good at what they do and the songwriting and production values are on point as ever.

no-man – Love You To Bits

I have no idea what Steven (Wilson) and Tim (Bowness) were on when they came up with the idea for this pulsating masterpiece but, by golly, can they please give some to the rest of what is becoming a very moribund music scene.

Love You To Bits is a utterly fascinating and overwhelmingly entertaining musical adventure with superb dynamism and a diversity rarely seen in the strictures of conventional music.

Just do yourselves a favour and go and buy it, you will not regret it!

Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours

Lushly produced by Soord himself and lovingly mastered by fellow The Pineapple Thief member Steve Kitch, All This Will Be Yours is a cultured gem of a record that has created music as a definitive art form. Born from the joy of bringing life into the world and the pain that Soord sees in the privation and hardship of his hometown, this is an album that will linger long in the memory.

Exploring Birdsong – The Thing With Feathers

‘The Thing With Feathers‘ is an utterly absorbing twenty-one minutes of music and delivers an undoubted new talent onto the music scene. Serene and graceful yet with a deep intelligence running throughout, I haven’t been this excited about a new artist in a very, very long time.

Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean

Bent Knee have knocked me sideways with this new release, You Know What They Mean is a collection of amazing musical journeys, some of them seemingly fraught with danger and all of them apparently from minds that seem to exist in an alternate reality to most people. Utterly mad at times and utterly magnificent at others, it has certainly changed my perspective and deserves to be on the awards list at the end of the year. Just one thing, who, exactly, are They?

Franck Carducci – The Answer

The Answer leaves a huge grin on my face, a highly enjoyable cornucopia of musical delights taking you on an amazing journey through 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, funk and pure rock and roll. Containing some utter Carducci gems, this album just keeps getting better and better with every listen and is by far Franck’s most cohesive and impressive work yet.

Human Pyramids – Power Pose

I think Paul and the rest of Human Pyramids have given us what is possibly the most playful, captivating, bewitching and beguiling album of 2019, it’s like a celebration of all that is good in this world delivered wrapped up for you to open on Christmas Day (Yes, that is the release date!). By golly, we really must all have been very good this year…

Afenginn – Klingra

Music for long winter evenings in the company of someone you love, ‘Klingra’ will make time stand still as you listen to every nuance and subtlety, it is an incredibly involving experience that I believe everyone should enjoy at least once.

Rise – Strangers

Music truly is the literature of the heart when it comes to releases like ‘Strangers’, this album is truly a work of musical art created by one of the most avant-garde folk songwriters currently alive. Each track has layers of texture that are almost primeval in nature, each is a living and breathing entity that will take each listener on their own personal journey. I suggest you get your hands on a copy and see where this incredible record takes you.

League Of Lights – In The In Between

What League of Lights have done is written a wonderful homage to the synth-pop highs of the late 80’s and early 90’s and brought it bang up to date for a modern musical world. For me it is chock full of nostalgia and is a wonderful and involving listening experience. Another highlight in a year that is beginning to produce quite a few but don’t take my word for it, go out and buy it and see for yourself!

Rise Twain – Rise Twain

Rise Twain have delivered one of the most impressive debut albums I have heard in quite a long time. The fragile beauty will touch you and the profound depth will move you like nothing else, if you only listen to one new album this year then I implore you to make it this one.

Izz – Don’t Panic

IZZ have returned with what should become an American progressive rock classic. Don’t Panic brings classic prog rock bang up to date for the 21st century and should cement this musical collective as one of the pre-eminent bands of the genre at this moment in time and for many years to come.

Bjørn Riis – A Storm Is Coming

I’m a huge fan of Bjørn Riis and “A Storm Is Coming” has just emphasized what a huge musical talent this man is. Six songs of loss, love and human relations that everyone can relate to make this an album that touches you on a personal level and one that is already one of the year’s outstanding releases.

cosmograf – Mind Over Depth

“Mind Over Depth” is another impressive offering from the talented Mr Armstrong under the Cosmograf moniker and the lack of a narrative proves no detriment at all. Powerful, cinematic and enigmatic, all the plaudits this release is garnering are richly deserved and will hopefully attract a new audience to Robin’s music.

And so we come to the album that has stood the test of time and really deserved the ‘Album of the Year’ gong from me…

Moron Police – A Boat On The Sea

I honestly cannot remember having this much fun listening to a record in a very long time, there’s an utter freedom to the songs and the music, an almost childlike immunity to the cares of the world. With everything that is happening in the so-called civilized world today, we could all do with a dose of the magical Moron Police in our life so do yourselves a favor and buy this album, you will never regret it!

So that wraps up 2019 but 2020 is already looking like another year of stellar releases. This list is as subjective as they come and it is just my opinion, see you on the other side for more of the same…

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ – Launch new song “Devils And Angels”

Pre-order for upcoming studio album ‘The God-Shaped Void’ now open!

US Progressive Metal pioneers and innovators PSYCHOTIC WALTZ return with their original line-up for their highly anticipated 5th studio album and first new music in 23 years. Entitled “The God-Shaped Void”, the upcoming new album and InsideOutMusic debut will be released on 14th February, 2020. 

The first new track taken off “The God-Shaped Void” is being shared today. Check out the album’s opening track “Devils And Angels” in a lyric video by Cloud Music Typography:

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ commented about “Devils And Angels” as follows:
“This was the second song we finished writing for the album, right after “The Fallen”.  Brian had some chunky riffs to start with, then we all kind of added our own flavor of spices to it, some of which you can really pick up on headphones. It wound up being a lot more epic than we expected!”

The basic tracks for “The God-Shaped Void” were recorded with engineer Ulrich Wild in the band’s hometown of San Diego, then the rest of the recordings at Studio D in Austria and finally the material was mixed/mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Devin Townsend, Fates Warning) at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. Artwork (as also presented throughout the lyric-video) was created by longtime visual partner Travis Smith (Katatonia, Riverside, Nevermore).

Here is the tracklisting for “The God-Shaped Void”: 

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ – “The God-Shaped Void”
1. Devils And Angels (06:29)

2. Stranded (04:49)

3. Back To Black (03:52)

4. All The Bad Men (03:59)

5. The Fallen (05:49)

6. While The Spiders Spin (05:49)

7. Pull The String (04:54)

8. Demystified (05:12)

9. Season Of The Swarm (05:57) *** Bonus Track

10. Sisters Of The Dawn (06:41)

11. In The Silence (05:16)

The album’s bonus-track “Season Of The Swarm” will be available on the limited Mediabook CD (which comes with expanded booklet and an exclusive logo patch), on the vinyl edition as well as on the Digital versions. A standard Jewelcase CD edition is available as well.

The vinyl edition of “The God-Shaped Void” comes as 2LP on 180gr. vinyl with gatefold packaging and with the entire album on CD as bonus in the following versions:

–  vinyl, there will also be the following strictly limited coloured editions available: 

– Black 2LP + CD: Unlimited

– Lilac 2LP + CD: 200x copies from IOM Webshop

– Transparent Blue 2LP + CD: 200x copies from Nuclear Blast

– Dark Green 2LP + CD: 300x copies from CM Distro

All formats are available for pre-order starting today here: 

https://psychoticwaltz.lnk.to/TheGodShapedVoid

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ line-up:

(Left to right on featured image by Axel Jusseit)

Dan Rock – guitars & keys

Devon Graves – vocals

Ward Evans – bass

Norman Leggio – drums

Brian McAlpin – guitars

Review – Moon Halo – Chroma

Artwork by Ed Unitsky

“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” Jean Paul Friedrich Richter

From musicnotes.com

Moon Halo’s debut album ‘Chroma’ comes from the creative minds of… Iain Jennings (Mostly Autumn)on keyboards, Marc Atkinson (Riversea) vocals and David Clements (Riversea) bass. With Alex Chromarty (ex-Mostly Autumn/Riversea) drums and Martin Ledger (Heather Findlay Band) on guitars. Guest Appearances from Anne-Marie Helder, Olivia Sparnenn-Josh, Janine Atkinson, Tammy Pawson and Micky Gibson.

One of the things I love about music is that when you think you’ve heard the best release of the year, another album comes along and knocks your conclusions right off the mantelpiece. Music should be ever evolving and changing that’s why, in my honest opinion, all great music is naturally progressive at heart.

I think what we want, and get, from music changes as we get older and change ourselves. I was a New Romantic in the 80’s and then became a Metalhead and Hard Rocker in the 90’s before blues and Prog Rock took my fancy into the new Millenium. I’ve listened to so much music over the years, some I have loved and some has disappointed me at a basic level.

Therefore, I can honestly say, it doesn’t matter what genre it is, good music will always be welcomed in my house.

Now I won’t hide the fact that Marc Atkinson is good friend of mine, he even sang at my 50th Birthday. I have followed him from his solo days through the wonderful Riversea and now bang up to date with Moon Halo and he has one of the greatest voices I have ever had the privilege of listening to.

Marc has got together with some like minded musical souls in Iain Jennings and David Clements and they have created a new musical project that is somewhat different to what they’ve all been involved in before.

‘Chroma’ is thirteen songs of perfectly crafted music with the honeyed tones of Marc’s vocals laid elegantly over the top. There is a focused energy and vibe to the album, an electrical charge that you feel flowing though you form the first track to the last.

The Web opens the record with a thoughtful and intensive feel, stylish and polished and you get the first taste of Martin Ledger‘s hefty prowess on the guitar, it soon becomes a signature throughout the album. Iain Jennings slick keyboard skills give Seize The Day a jazzy, funked up vibe that’s enhanced by the excellent backing vocals and edgy riffing. Croma is a wistful, sombre instrumental full of dignity and grace, I’m already finding that it doesn’t take long to get drawn into this rather tasty release and we’re only three songs in!

The heartfelt beauty of The Veil tugs at your heartstrings, Marc gives a vocal performance full of pain and sorrow and the guitar solo is just magnificent. There’s a an immediacy and bang up to date aura to the hard edged and rocky Parachute, a song that could grace the setlist of a Bryan Adams gig and one that puts a big grin on your face. Somebody Save Us is refined and stylish, full of lush layers of smmooth as you like music and overlaid by the, once-again, excellent vocals.

Moon Halo give us a brilliant rendition of modern R&B with the polished What’s Your Name, a song you find yourself quite happily dancing and singing along to as David Clements’ funky bass lines and Ledger’s pin sharp guitar drive it along. Stirring and soulful, Seventh Heaven is one of my favourite tracks on the album. There’s a tenderness to the vocals and an impassioned feel to the way the music is delivered. A moment of contemplation takes you as you listen to the plaintive backing vocals and dreamlike guitar, such a powerfully nostalgic song. 80’s dynamic keyboards open the brash, strident feeling Let Me Out, a track that adds bluster with it’s slap-bass rhythm and Kraftwerk-esque solo, hang on, who let Level 42 in the building?

The vibrant Awoken wouldn’t be amiss on one of Marc’s solo releases and then we are led into the final trio of songs by the epic feeling Across The Dark Divide, a refined, tasteful piece of music that has vitality and soul deep at its core. This feeling of individuality and substance flows into Rise Up, another modern soul and R&B track that wears its vivacity like the quintessential sharp suit.

All good things must come to an end and ‘Chroma’ is closed out by the superb Don’t Let It End Like This. At times tender and graceful, at others powerful and monumental, it is one of those songs that stands out as soon as you hear it. Mesmerising and anthemic, it certainly provides a perfect ending to the album and the guitar heavy play out is just inspired.

I love music for how it can surprise you, lift you up and seem to make the world a better place to be and it’s albums like ‘Chroma’ that continue to feed my passion. Moon Halo have painstakingly crafted and lovingly delivered a true musical work of art and one that immediately lifts your mood and salves your soul, you should buy this record as your world will be a better place for having it.

Released 13th January 2020

Order from bandcamp here:

https://moonhalomusic.bandcamp.com/releases

IAMTHEMORNING SINGER-SONGWRITER – MARJANA SEMKINA PREMIERES NEW TRACK & VIDEO FOR “EVERYTHING BURNS”

TAKEN FROM HER DEBUT SOLO ALBUM – SLEEPWALKING  
(KSCOPE – 14TH FEBRUARY 2020)

With Marjana Semkina,Iamthemorning’s lyricist, singer and co-songwriter, set to release her spellbinding debut solo album, Sleepwalking on 14th February 2020 through Kscope, she has premiered the video for the track “Everything Burns”.

“The song ‘Everything Burns’ focuses on the demons that you take with you no matter how far you try to go; the fact is you just can’t run away from them. No matter how hard you try to change everything around you, they will stay with you unless you realise that the most important change, the one that is by far the hardest to achieve – the one that happens inside of you” Semkina explains the meaning behind the song. 

She continues by reflecting on how the clip, produced together with the long term collaborator of iamthemorning Eggor Kree, refences this side of the struggle “these toxic situations that we find ourselves trapped in seemingly, with no escape, you just have to find strength within yourself to put an end to it, even if this means you have to destroy something familiar & precious that you’ve been building for a while . Stepping into the unknown can be scary, but sometimes it’s (metaphorically) necessary to burn everything to the ground and start anew and work very hard to not fall into the same old patterns in this new life of yours.”

Sleepwalkingis available to PRE-ORDER HEREon CD / LP and digitally (with “Everything Burns” available as an instant download on digital pre-orders). Note to fans – Sleepwalking will be released under an alternative spelling – Mariana Semkina.

Sleepwalking will be available on CD / LP and digitally and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE

Sleepwalking tracklisting 

1. Dark Matter [03:12] 

2. Am I Sleeping Or Am I Dead [04:27] 

3. Turn Back Time [04:06] 

4. Ars Longa Vita Brevis [03:03] 

5. Invisible [03:07] 

6. Lost At Sea [04:59] 

7. Skin [04:52] 

8. How To Be Alone [02:50] 

9. Everything Burns [03:14] 

10. Mermaid Song [04:32] 

11. Still Life [04:08] 

Marjana Semkina is currently performing as Iamthemorning in support to The Flower Kings, in promotion of the band’s recent album The Bell.
10/12 – Columbia Theater, Berlin, Germany11/12 – Amager Bio, Copenhagen, Denmark12/12 – Brewhouse, Gothenburg, Sweden14/12 –  Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden 

Review – Human Pyramids – Power Pose

“Music is an outburst of the soul.” ― Frederick Delius

I absolutely adored the second album from Human Pyramids, the cinematic, orchestral supergroup from Glasgow, Scotland. Released in 2017, ‘Home’ was uplifting, inspiring and a salve to the soul, all delivered with a touch of fun and humour in one undeniably wonderful package.

So I was definitely a happy bunny when I received an email about a follow up to that bundle of joy. Led by Composer/Producer Paul Russell, ‘Power Pose’ features musicians from Axes, Suicide Bid, Admiral Fallow, Scottish Ballet and Puff Uproar.

Their third album was recorded all over Scotland, London and Berlin. With luscious strings, rousing horns, shimmering woodwinds and bubbling synths, the album expands upon their trademark euphoric sound from the first 2 records which have sound-tracked countless TV shows, documentaries and films. The album was mastered by Joe Lambert (Dirty Projectors / Animal Collective) in Jersey City.

Paul Russell

A musical experience like no other, Human Pyramids give us instrumental music that appears to come from a world where children’s TV could provide the soundtrack to life, an innocent joy abounds throughout the the twelve engaging and compelling tracks, opener 4000 Miles using strings and brass to wondrous effect. Like a glorious sunrise rising on a virtuous, unblemished world, it lifts your heart and makes your soul soar.

There’s playfulness and candour in the pared back delight of tracks like Volcano and Treacle and pomposity and fun in the catchy drive of Boxing Day. I always felt there was a childlike awe at the heart of ‘Home’ and that perception continues with the excellent Confetti and in the staccato strings of Hospital Radio.

‘Power Pose’ sees the collective deliver more maturity without losing the spontaneous touch inherent on the previous album. The enchanting and captivating music continues through Memory Map, the off- kilter, sometime country blues aura of Wisdom Teeth and Hanlon’s Razor and culminates in the incredible fun-filled high energy brass of the funky The Mighty Atom and the more laid back final track Trouble.

I think Paul and the rest of Human Pyramids have given us what is possibly the most playful, captivating, bewitching and beguiling album of 2019, it’s like a celebration of all that is good in this world delivered wrapped up for you to open on Christmas Day (Yes, that is the release date!). By golly, we really must all have been very good this year…

Released 25th December 2019

Pre-order, and listen to 4000 Miles, from the link below:

https://humanpyramids.bandcamp.com/album/power-pose

Toundra announce new album ‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’to be released on 28th February 2020 via InsideOut

‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is the latest musical initiative of TOUNDRA, the intrepid instrumental rock band from Spain, that once again showcases their mutable capability to approach new projects and reinvent their art. This is not just an exceptional soundtrack to the quintessential German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene that turns exactly 100 years old in 2020, it’s also a dialogue with the listener with the intention of questioning ideas like manipulation, freedom and human nature itself. The album will be released by InsideOut/Century Media on February 28th 2020.

To get a glimpse of the magic of this amazing soundtrack the band has just presented an appetizer of what’s soon going to be premiered as the first video & single, that will be available next week:

The band states, “‘Das Cabinet des Dr.Caligari’ is a movie with a very strong visual energy. It’s a film that takes elements of the terror movies to speak about authoritarianism. About how ideas can be controlled and eventually lead a human individual to do the worst things. It was premiered in between-war period, and it represents an advice about the real danger of some ideologies that nowadays are getting a new life across Europe; ideologies based in intolerance. That’s why we like to see this film as historical document that invites to some conscious thinking rather than let ourselves go where intolerants want to take us.”

The artwork has been done by Riki Blanco and it features all the iconic elements of the movie.

There will be a tour to present the album live and dates will be announced very soon, so stay tuned.

TOUNDRA took the world by storm with their personal instrumental rock on 2007. Since then, they have toured Europe intensively to the point of being considered one of the continent’s most exciting rock acts and have also taken their challenging music to places like Mexico or the United States. They have released three albums independently and two under the imprint of InsideOut/Superball and championed charts crossovering countries and genres, and they even formed the project Exquirla, which blends flamenco and rock.